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Land of the manchus
By Wang Ru (China Daily)
Updated: 2009-08-20 09:21

Land of the manchus

It takes two hours to drift along the river that has 20 moderate and torrential sections in terms of water speed, but none is dangerous as the river is just a meter deep, on average.

Since 1999, the annual Manchu Tourism Festival has been attracting more and more domestic and foreign tourists, and this year a highlight was the Honghe River rafting adventure.

Those not keen on water thrills can also drift along the river to take in the unique ecosystem in the canyon, which is a part of the Qingyuan National Forest Park. There are more than 300 kinds of plants and many rare bird and animal species in the surrounding lush mountains. In summer, the wild red flowers found on these mountains are reflected on the water surface, giving it its name Hong He, or Red River.

After the exciting river rafting adventure, I turned my interest to the land, where 400 years ago Nurhachi (1559-1626) led his cavalry to smash the army of the decaying Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Fushun has two World Heritages sites - Hetuala old city and the Yongling tombs.

Nurhachi, founding father of the Qing Dynasty, was born in Hetuala city and is credited with unifying all the tribes to overthrow the Ming Dynasty.

Hetuala is Manchu for Henggang, or a small, flat hummock. It is divided into the inner city and outer city, constructed respectively in 1603 and 1605. The city, covering 246,000 sq m, is known as the "first city of Qing".

Inside the city, under the shade of big elm trees, you can see how the Qing royalty led their lives before they moved into the Forbidden City in Beijing. However, Nurhachi did not make it to the dragon chair in the Forbidden City as he died in battle in 1626.

The local government has preserved Manchu culture in a place that is 70 percent ethnic Manchu.

The tourism festival gave me the chance to get a taste of authentic Manchu culture, including the dancing of the shamans, weddings and hunting.

There was also traditional Manchu cuisine, exemplified in the Ba Die Ba Wan (eight plates, eight bowls).

The Yongling tombs built in 1558 are located next to the ancient city, and are the resting place of the six forefathers of the royal household. This was also where the grand ancestor-worship ceremonies of the Qing were held.

Ironically, the empire eventually ended on the land where it thrived.

In 1931, the Japanese army created a puppet Manchuguo State in Northeast China. Puyi, the last Qing emperor, was nominated as the ruler.

After the founding of People's Republic of China, he was jailed in the Fushun War Criminal Management Center from 1950 to 1959.

After visiting the historical relics, I set off to soak in the scenic beauty of Fushun.

Houshi (monkey rock) National Forest Park in Xinbing is a major tourist attraction with its many strange-looking giant rocks, including the famous monkey-shaped one.

In Saer Hu, or "wood closet" in the Manchu language, lies the 110 sq km Dahuofang Reservoir, which is the largest man-made lake in Northeast China.

It is an ideal resting place, before you embark on an exploration of many other places of interest in Fushun.

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